Observations from Kew Gardens (UK) and now Houston (US).
April 03, 2010
OAT Guatemala: Lake Atitlan
Our hotel in Panajachal on Lake Atitlan was lovely and much to my delight, we got to stay a few days. Three volcanoes surround the lake: San Pedro, Toliman and Atitlán. The lake is 1000 feet deep (deepest in the western hemisphere), covers 130 square miles and is 5000 feet above sea level.
We took a ferry to San Antonio Palopa.
We were fortunate to see a woman weaving with a backstrap loom. Unlike a foot loom, backstrap weaving limits the width. That is why huipiles must be pieced together. Ellen Riojas Clark wrote a moving essay noting that the powerful Lady Xoc of Chiapas, Mexico was shown wearing a huipil on a 725 AD limestone carving. "To wear a huipil is to elegantly declare one's identity, history, and culture in the tumult of contemporary life." Ivania said that today, many choose huipiles from other villages and it is no longer possible to positively identify a woman's village by the huipil she is wearing. The most prized huipiles are from San Antonio Aguas Calientes. They take 4-6 months to weave, the designs are colorful and complicated, and the outside and inside are identical.
We took a ferry to Santiago to view Maximon and the Procession
Back in Panajachel, Ivania took us on a walking tour terminating in a pupuseria. Kathy made pupusas while the rest of us just ate them.
Kathie's (not to be confused with pupusa-making Kathy) cousin met us for pupusas and invited us to his vacation home in San Pedro. Off we went on another ferry ride to see his home, a bit of the town and his favorite coffee shop where he spends most of his morning hours.